In early November, many people were thrilled to see a slew of announcements from vaccine companies Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech stating that their vaccine trials had proved over 90% effective. After months of waiting and variations of state lockdowns, there has finally been a solid scientific breakthrough that implies an eventual end to this pandemic.
Out of these three companies, the Pfizer vaccine is the one already in production and expected to be produced in large quantities throughout 2021. The FDA has recently approved Pfizer’s vaccine and ensured its safety, which enables it to be mass produced in the United States and Belgium. The UK is the first region to begin administering the vaccine to citizens.
The Pfizer vaccine is given in the form of two shots, taken three weeks apart. The first dose alone should ensure at least 50% effectiveness after a week, but both doses are needed to achieve maximum protection from the virus. The vaccine is said to cause symptoms like headache, fatigue, and fever in the days after receiving each dose, but these symptoms should fade after several days. The long term effects of the vaccine are not yet known.
Because the vaccine has been produced and approved so rapidly, and the long term effects are not yet known, some Americans are hesitant about voluntarily receiving a dose. However, unless the majority of Americans are vaccinated, achieving herd immunity will not be possible. According to Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, “…unless we want hundreds of millions of Americans to get infected with SARS-CoV-2 (what it would take to establish herd immunity in this country), life is not likely to be completely “normal” again until a vaccine can be developed and widely distributed.”
The first rounds of the vaccine will be given to medical professionals and workers in nursing homes. After this is completed, priority will most likely be given to the elderly and those who are most at risk if they contract Covid-19. This means that even though the vaccine is in production, it could take many more months for the vaccine to be widely distributed.